Late Wicklow teenager Dylan Lynch, who fought cancer for almost half his life, remembered for his bravery, determination, positivity and love of soccer and tennis
RATHNEW has been heartbroken by the death of soccer-mad teenager Dylan Lynch, who died peacefully aged only 19 on November 13 in St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin after battling Leukemia for almost half of his life.
Laid to rest at the Church of the Most Holy Rosary in Ashford on Thursday, November 18, Dylan was remembered for his determination to overcome every challenge his harrowing nine-year struggle with Leukemia threw at him. He was remembered for his love of sport, his passion for soccer team Manchester United, and described as ‘one of life’s superheroes’ whose achievements were ‘superhuman stuff’.
His mother Cathy Lynch addressed the congregation through tears as she said: “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, so please bear with me.
“When you remember Dylan you will remember the Manchester United fanatic, the talented goalkeeper, the brilliant tennis player and the most knowledgeable person when it came to soccer facts.
“His happy place was definitely Wicklow Tennis Club. He had the best of times there and in latter years also Shankill Tennis Club.
“Unfortunately, when you think of Dylan another word in the forefront of your mind is cancer. This evil came into his life when he was just 10 years old, a day in our life that is indescribable.”
She added: “Dylan faced everything that was thrown at him with the utmost bravery, determination and positivity. He was one of life’s true superheroes who we have learned so much from. We cannot thank enough the staff at Crumlin and St Vincent’s looked after Dylan over the last nine and a half years with such care and compassion.
“There are far too many people to thank but I am going to mention his consultant in Crumlin Eoin Smyth and in the last year and a half Claire Andrews. Without these two people we would not have had Dylan for as long as we did. We will be forever grateful to you both.”
Diagnosed with cancer aged 10, Dylan endured years of gruelling treatment and horrendous side-effects which resulted in brain damage and central nervous damage. He spent months in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and learned to walk again with the help of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
His bravery earned him a National Children of Courage Award at the Share-a-Dream Ball in 2018, and he received further recognition at the Wicklow Garda Youth Awards the following year, winning a Special Achievement Award for his inspirational fight back from illness.
He also leaves a lasting legacy at the organisation that helped him so much, Purple House Cancer Support in Bray, as only last year the centre was able to open a new gym to help rehabilitate cancer patients thanks to a huge fundraising effort he led.
Speaking last Thursday, Fr Eamon Crossan spoke in wonderment at the power and impact of such a young man.
“He was determined that he would win,” he said. “He faced great obstacles in his life, but it didn’t hold him back, and you might wonder how was he able to do it. It was kind of superhuman stuff. It’s not the work of willpower. I suppose it’s God power. Those of you who knew him knew that the spirit of God dwelt in him. He touched many lives. He was a gift.”
Poignantly, his funeral took place in the church only moments from the grounds of Ashford Rovers, where he once played in goal, and next door to Scoil na Coróine Mhuire where he first began learning about the world he went on to love travelling, before graduating to Coláiste Chill Mhantáin.
Among the symbols brought up to the altar was a tennis ball and racquet to show his love of tennis, which he played to a high standard with Wicklow and Shankill Tennis Clubs. He had been completing his own personal grand slam, and next on his list was to be Roland Garros in France.
There was also a Manchester United goalkeeper’s jersey, representing his love for the team and his own goalkeeping skills and aspirations and a photo montage prepared by his younger sister Emma of Dylan’s last trip to visit the team, which took place only a few weeks ago.
It was just one of many soccer trips Dylan made, another highlight coming in 2019 when he met the Irish squad at training in Dublin before a European Championship qualifier.
The last thing he did before he died on Sunday, November 13 was watch Manchester United play for the last time, rejoicing as his team beat Fulham with two goals to one. These are the sorts of memories mum Cathy was keen to reflect on.
“My beautiful boy,” she said. “My precious baby. The best son any parent could wish to have. An amazing big brother to Emma, who he adored and she him, even if they managed to hide it a lot of the time. How else will Dylan be remembered, kind, funny, caring, intelligent, witty, sarcastic, no idea where he got that from.
“We will be forever grateful Dylan got to visit Old Trafford one last time only a few weeks ago with his favourite Manchester United supporters. It was such a special time for us all and we made such wonderful memories.
In true Dylan style, the very last thing he did on Sunday was watch his beloved Manchester United play for the last time and boy was his happy when they won.”
Cathy paid tribute to Dylan’s friends, who stuck by him ‘through thick and thin’ and to her and husband Cathal’s friends, who she said ‘will always have a special place’ in their family for the support they have provided through their darkest times.
She finished by speaking to her daughter Emma.
“I know life has been cruel to you since you were six years old,” she said. “Dylan would want you now to have the happiest life and myself and your dad are going to do everything in our power to make that happen.”
Dylan from Broomhall Avenue, Rathnew, Co Wicklow is survived by his parents Cathy and Cathal, sister Emma, grandmothers Marie (Phelan) and Noreen, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and friends.
May he rest in peace.